Hong Kong is Asia’s world city, and you get a first glimpse into the experience you are about to receive as you enter Hong Kong Duty Free at the International Airport. Hong Kong with an eclectic mix of cultures its not quite like anywhere else in Asia, Europe or America… all I know is its AWESOME!
After my recent trip to Honkers, here’s a snap shot of the best things about the Airport and in particular, the Hong Kong Duty Free experience as well as a few of the must do’s during your stay.
Hong Kong Duty Free – The Airport
If there is one thing Hong Kong Airport does well its streamline. For such a large hub it’s so damn easy to navigate your way through so many gates on your arrival as you are basically funnelled from your arrival gate down one long corridor to the customs desks and through to your baggage claim (for those less inclined for the walk there is also an “Automated People Mover” or shuttle from one end to the other).
Hong Kong Duty Free offers duty free on your arrival, however its size and product range is somewhat limited compared to the tax free shopping available outside the airport and past customs at your departure. Once you have your bags you can take easily hire a car or grab a taxi into the city, but the best way to get yourself into the heart of Hong Kong is to simply jump on the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) which will drop you at Central Station on Hong Kong Island, you can then make your way to your hotel through the easily to navigate train network or there is also a bus service to major hotels on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
With such a vast number of outbound flights you would think navigating the check in desks would leave you with cold sweats and in need of a Xanax, but the departures board that quite literally smacks you in the face when you walk in to T1 at Hong Kong Airport makes the task a rather anxiety free experience. Once you’ve dropped your bags and got your boarding pass, make a b-line for the customs area conveniently located to the left and right hand side of a few small Duty Free outlets which aren’t worth wasting your time with, the real fun begins on the other side of the wall!
After customs you enter the food arena, yes the arena… with everything from Western McDonalds to Japanese you can be sure to find something to fill your belly before taking on Hong Kong Duty Free and the Shopping that lies beneath.
Hong Kong Duty Free Shopping (the main agenda item)
If food isn’t on your menu just head straight down the escalators and you are met with somewhat of a maze of Duty Free stores. With almost every major high end luxury jewellery and fashion brand having their own designated store as well as plenty of DFS Galleria stores for alcohol, cosmetics and a vast number of electronics stores you can be sure, whatever you want to get your hands on Hong Kong Duty Free has it twice over. It’s actually a great area to spend your time while you wait for your flight and with plenty of friendly staff to help you try on watches, necklaces, perfumes, headphones and sunglasses next thing you know they will be calling your name over the PA to let you know the gate doors for your flight are just about to close!
Although there is plenty on offer Hong Kong Airport isn’t fantastically priced for Duty Free as Hong Kong is a tax free location here so be sure to do some shopping outside the airport (we’ll get to that) and use Duty Free Addict’s price comparison so you know how much the item will be in the airport at home and in Hong Kong. Then you can make sure you get the cheapest price possible for your purchases.
If your name is getting called over the PA because you have spent too much time shopping, don’t worry too much as finding your gate won’t be too hard. With only 4 gates (1-4) on the left of Hong Kong Airport’s Duty Free shopping area and 5 (15 – 19) on the right, the remaining 71 gates are all down the main corridor which you can see from the upstairs restaurants. Maybe it was the Duty Free shopping distractions but I noticed that gates 5 – 14 are not signposted which leaves an element of intrigue as to where these might be, who they take on their journeys or if the even exist at all?
If you’re travelling for business, the lounges are a bit scattered at Hong Kong Airport, Qantas’ first lounge is located upstairs on the right hand side of the restaurants and Cathay on the left. Emirates are located at the split of the gates after gates 35 and 36 and the remainder of the major airlines are downstairs behind the Duty Free shopping area, including Singapore and Qantas’ business lounge.
Things to do whilst you’re in Hong Kong:
Kowloon is the main shopping district of Hong Kong, if you’re staying on HK Island take the ferry over to Tsim Sha Tsui and wander down “the golden mile” and Canton Road for all your luxury goods including the 2nd largest Louis Vuitton store in the world. There are also plenty of tailors around for a well-made tailored suit for a fraction of what you would pay in western countries as well as large malls to wonder if a bit of rain comes your way.
There are plenty of market places for cheap items such as silks, cheap imitations and even pets! Mong Kok has the Ladies Markets which is a must do, wander the streets of the most congested shopping and residential area of Hong Kong is an experience in itself not to mention the bargains you can find!
If you get a chance take a bus ride out to Stanley markets, the ride gives you an awesome view of Hong Kong Island outside the CBD and the markets are great of you want to pick up women’s clothing and little gadgets plus it’s a kind of nice to get out to a less congested area for a short while.
Out and about:
Everyone has heard about the escalators in Hong Kong, so take a trip to So-Ho jump on the escalators and grab a bite to eat and a few drinks with the expat community in Hong Kong. If you’re up for some more action after dinner head down the road (walking distance) to Lan Kwai Fong (LKF) for plenty of bars and restaurants spilling out into the street or check out some of the incredible roof top bars around the Island. Sevva on Hong Kong Island is amazing and has some awesome tappas food but there are plenty more. Check out Lifestyle Asia for just a few.
It seriously doesn’t matter what night of the week you head out as the lifestyle in Hong Kong oozes social interaction and dining out so there’s plenty of atmosphere even at midnight on a Monday, it begs the question how the locals get up and go to work the next day.
Must do Attractions:
- The Peak for a view of the city is a must
- Walk the Avenue of the Stars on Kowloon and get a picture with Bruce Lee
- Have lunch with the monks at Po Lin Monastery and climb the stairs to the Tian Tan Buddha (known as the Big Buddha)
- Sail Hong Kong Harbour on a Junk Boat
- Watch the Symphony of Lights perhaps with drink in hand at Aqua on Kowloon or Sevva